College binge drinking is a significant problem in our society. Recent research suggests that Latinas may be at a particularly high risk for the development of problem drinking as they transition from the traditional home environment to the college setting where more liberal drinking norms prevail. Under these circumstances, alcohol-related perceptions and attentional-biases may be important determinants in students'decisions to engage in risky drinking behaviors. The proposed study is a longitudinal examination of the relationship between psychosocial and neurophysiological factors associated with college students'attention to and consumption of alcohol-related beverages during the freshman year of college. This proposal is unique in that it focuses on the understudied population of first-generation, Mexican-American college women, while at the same time using event-related potentials (ERPs) to track changes in neurophysiological indices of attentional bias in real time (e.g., as participants view alcohol-related images). Resulting data will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying changes in alcohol-related attention and perception over the course of female students'first year in the college environment. These findings could ultimately be applied to the development of attentional training programs for the treatment and prevention of excessive alcohol consumption on college campuses.
The transition from the home environment to college is a time of adjustment that is often marked by an increase in alcohol use and recent research suggests that young women, particularly Latinas, may be at a particularly high risk for the development of problem drinking during this transition. The purpose of this study is to examine how alcohol use, attitudes toward alcohol and the ability for alcohol images to capture attention change over the first year of college in young women, and whether these changes differ across cultures. Results of this study will provide a better understanding of the reasons why people engage in activities that may harm their health.